Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:11 pm
The Messenger, November 17, 2011
By RB TOLAR
Special to The Messenger
From the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 2:
3. Q. How do you know your misery?
A. From the law of God.
4. Q. What does the law of God require of us?
A. Christ teaches this in summary in Matt. 22:37-40: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets.
5. Q. Can you keep all this perfectly?
A. By no means; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
Having learned in the first two questions of the Heidelberg Catechism that our only comfort is found in Christ alone, we turn to the next three questions and their answers to find out how we, with our foolish and darkened hearts (Rom. 1:21), are enabled to recognize our fallen and helpless condition.
Answer No. 3 states it simply: it is the law of God that reveals to us our sinful state. We are at war with God (Romans 8:7), and under His just condemnation (Romans 3:20).
As shown in the fourth answer, when Jesus summed up the commandments as whole-hearted love of God and self-sacrificing love for our neighbor, He revealed the law in its fullness: that our thoughts are to be occupied constantly with the things of God (Psalm 139:17), that we are to seek Him out in prayer and in His Word (Psalm 119:48) and to joyfully and regularly go to His house (Psalm 122:1), that we must place the welfare of others above our own (I Corinthians 9:19).
Thus we are left with answer No. 5’s conclusion that we can in no way keep God’s law.
Faced with this failure to comply with the requirements of a perfectly righteous and just God, we (if we are truthful) must admit that we are indeed lost and miserable creatures.
Paul addresses this truth comprehensively in the seventh chapter of Romans. In this text he details his realization of his sin as he meditates on the perfection of the law. He acknowledges his failure before the standard of the law; in fact he cries out in despair at his inability to adhere to the least part of it.
Have you ever looked into God’s perfect law? Have you considered not just the bare requirements, but the deeper implications of the Ten Commandments?
Have you ever been less than truthful, held a hateful grudge or expressed discontent at God’s providence (Job 2:10)? How can any of us contemplate the holiness of the God of creation and not cry out with Paul, “Who shall rescue me from this body of death (Romans 7:24)?”
Blessedly, Paul answers this question in the very next verse (v.25a). Join us for the next several weeks as we explore the deliverance that God has so graciously provided.
Editor’s note: RB Tolar, a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy, is humbly grateful to be able to participate in this writing ministry.